Business

Thumbnail image for Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

by Doug Porter 03.26.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

California’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy is releasing an interim report today outlining issues needing to be addressed in any legalization measures going before voters in 2016.

The commission, led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and including the ACLU, assorted academics, activists along with, law enforcement officials, will not officially take a position on legalization. Public forums in cities around the state will soon be announced as part of forming a policy road map towards legalization. Issues such as taxes, driving under the influence and a means for prohibiting access to minors are among those being considered.

The panel hopes to have its policy analysis completed by August.

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Thumbnail image for California Consumers Gouged for $550 Million at the Gas Pump in February

California Consumers Gouged for $550 Million at the Gas Pump in February

by Doug Porter 03.25.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The higher prices Californians pay for gasoline was the focus of a hearing chaired by San Diego’s Sen. Ben Hueso this week.

A report issued by the Consumer Watchdog group alleges consumers were gouged for an extra $550 million at the gas pump during February as the result of a strategy by refiners to keep inventories artificially low. The group came to this conclusion by calculating the difference between US and state prices and allotting for consumption.

Members of the transportation, housing and energy, utilities and communications committees questioned energy industry executives about recent price spikes in California. Earlier this week Californians were paying 84 cents more per gallon than the rest of the nation for their gasoline.

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Thumbnail image for How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

by Source 03.25.2015 Business

By Paul Bucheit / Common Dreams

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.”

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000%

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

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Thumbnail image for Water Issues for Laypeople: How the Otay District Works

Water Issues for Laypeople: How the Otay District Works

by Source 03.25.2015 Business

Do you know where your water comes from? Do you know where it goes after it runs down your drain?

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

I didn’t either, so in these troubled times when most media outlets are up and arms about the California drought, I went directly to the Otay Water District to find out.

The General Manager, Mark Watton, and the Otay team of employees were friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about water. In addition, I got the feeling they wished more citizens knew about their work because water, after all, is our most essential human resource.

On the other hand, if I can summarize California water in one word, I would say: CONFUSING.

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Thumbnail image for HSBC: A Criminal Enterprise Too Big To Jail

HSBC: A Criminal Enterprise Too Big To Jail

by John Lawrence 03.24.2015 2014 June Primary

Attorney General Eric Holder will leave office with a perfect record of not having busted a single senior banker

By John Lawrence

The bank, HSBC, has been involved in criminal enterprises from dealing with terrorists and drug dealers to advising clients how to escape paying taxes. Yet no HSBC banker has gone to jail.

Dealing with drug dealers is nothing new for HSBC, also known as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. They have always been associated with drugs. Founded in 1865, HSBC became the major commercial bank in colonial China after the conclusion of the Second Opium War. That’s the war in which European powers forced the Chinese to legalize the drug trade.

If you or I got caught with a few stems or seeds of marijuana, we would go to jail. HSBC laundered money for the Sinaloa drug cartel, but yet they had to pay only a small fine and got off the hook. The fine, $1.9 billion, is about five weeks of income for the bank. Their executives had to partially defer their bonuses as well.

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Thumbnail image for California Drought Legislation Must Target Agribusiness and Big Oil

California Drought Legislation Must Target Agribusiness and Big Oil

by Source 03.23.2015 Business

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers touted the introduction of drought legislation in the Legislature on March 19, while leaders of environmental and corporate watchdog groups urged Brown to put real limits on the “most egregious” water users – corporate agribusiness and big oil companies – to really address the drought.

Brown joined Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin to unveil legislation that they claimed will “help local communities cope with the ongoing, devastating drought.”

A statement from the Governor’s Office said the package will expedite bond funding to “make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies.”

“This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” said Governor Brown. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Finally Allows 1st “Legal” Pot Shop 19 Years After California Voters Passed Measure

San Diego Finally Allows 1st “Legal” Pot Shop 19 Years After California Voters Passed Measure

by Frank Gormlie 03.22.2015 Business

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The City of San Diego has finally allowed the opening of the City’s very first medical marijuana dispensary.

This opening of the first “legal” pot shop in San Diego comes 19 years after California voters passed Prop 215, making medical marijuana legal.

And the County of San Diego has only allowed one dispensary to open to date – a storefront opened last summer in an unincorporated area outside El Cajon.

The shameful history of nearly 2 decades for both the City and County of San Diego that viewed together initiated delays, stalls, and outright resistance to the spirit of Prop 215, stands in deep contrast to the wishes of the state’s voters.

On this issue at least, the implementation of the medical marijuana law, our local governments have been very undemocratic as they have quite openly stymied what the voters, the people, wanted.

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Thumbnail image for The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

by Doug Porter 03.20.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

There’s a special meeting of the Uptown Planners next Tuesday (March 24) to discuss overriding the SANDAG Regional Bike Plan in Mission Hills and Hillcrest. Cycling advocates are expected to face off against various organizations and people opposed to proposed traffic changes in the area.

This meeting is, I think, symbolic of a larger battle going on over the future of transportation in the city. While all the organizations involved give lip service to the Climate Action Plan’s goal of 18% bike mode share in Uptown by 2035, there are individuals who come across as negative about actually doing anything to achieve the goal.

Despite a growing body of evidence contradicting what some small businesspeople assume about the negative impact of bike lanes, parking spaces and traffic calming measures, when it gets down to an actual plan, all they can say is “no.” (Kinda like the GOP on their alternative to Obamacare, I think.) 

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Thumbnail image for Fair Trade Is a Racial Justice Issue

Fair Trade Is a Racial Justice Issue

by Source 03.19.2015 Business

The struggle in towns like Ferguson to overcome racial and economic barriers is hard enough without another wrong-headed trade pact

By  / OtherWords

The work of repairing the racial fissures that broke wide open in Ferguson, Missouri last year goes beyond the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

It also goes beyond ending the practices highlighted in a Justice Department report that criticized Ferguson cops and courts for shaking down the city’s poor, black residents for revenue.

What else will it take? Good jobs.

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Thumbnail image for What It’s Like to Own and Run a Flourishing Marijuana Dispensary

What It’s Like to Own and Run a Flourishing Marijuana Dispensary

by Source 03.19.2015 Business

Northern California owner: It’s “quite different from the view from the outside looking in.”

By David McCullick / Alternet

The view I have from behind the counter of my Medical Marijuana (MMJ) dispensary—the Sonoma Patient Group in Santa Rosa, California–is quite different from the view from the outside looking in. Many law enforcement types, city and county elders, and much of the general public have a very pre-conceived notion of what it is we do, how we do it and who we do it for.

If you are not privy to what actually happens in a dispensary, you might be inclined to believe what you read and hear from those that do not visit them, use MMJ at all or have their own agenda (i.e., draconian drug laws and incarceration quotas). You may hear talk of how the MMJ laws are just a front so that people can smoke their weed, or that the movement is a distraction or just a way to full legalization of recreational marijuana. You might believe it when you are told that only young healthy people under 25 visit the dispensaries or that we are a danger to your kids.

The truth of the matter is that MMJ works for most people that try it on some level or another depending on what you use it for, how you use it and how often you use it, keeping in mind that we are all different. What works for you might be different than what works for me. Most people that use MMJ are legitimate patients who want the medical benefits.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Sues Monsanto for Polluting Bay With Banned Carcinogenic Chemicals

San Diego Sues Monsanto for Polluting Bay With Banned Carcinogenic Chemicals

by Source 03.18.2015 Business

Lawsuit says toxins manufactured by agrochemical giant ‘have been found in Bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life’

By Sarah Lazarre / Common Dreams

San Diego authorities filed a lawsuit on Monday (March 16) against the agrochemical giant Monsanto, accusing the corporation of polluting the city’s bay with carcinogenic chemicals that are so dangerous to human health they were banned in the U.S. more than 30 years ago.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by City of San Diego and San Diego Unified Port District and focuses on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). “PCBs manufactured by Monsanto have been found in bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life in the Bay,” the complaint reads.

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Thumbnail image for A Housing Market Divided

A Housing Market Divided

by Source 03.18.2015 Business

Deregulation won’t solve California’s seemingly intractable affordable housing crisis on its own.

By David Dayen / Capital & Main

Housing markets get discussed in the media mostly through the channel of prices. Rising prices are considered good for the economy. They can connote increased sales, which would lead to more construction and real estate-related jobs. They also give homeowners more equity in their homes, and the consequent “wealth effect” – studies show personal spending jumps when people perceive an increase in their wealth – can benefit the economy.

But there’s a darker side to rising home prices. They harm affordability, particularly for first-time homebuyers. Since the collapse of the housing bubble, this group of potential purchasers has not returned to the market at the historical level of 2006. Because first-time homebuyers allow sellers to purchase bigger homes, their absence has blunted the impact of rising prices; the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that residential housing investment remains lower than the depths of any housing crash over the past 40 years.

Housing affordability is a major problem in the Golden State. The California Association of Retailers’ most recent Housing Affordability Index (HAI) shows that only 30 percent of the state’s households can afford to purchase an average-priced home in their area.

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Thumbnail image for Humane Prosperity or More Economic Inequality for San Diego? Debating Free Trade Agreements Like TPP

Humane Prosperity or More Economic Inequality for San Diego? Debating Free Trade Agreements Like TPP

by Doug Porter 03.17.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

Sometime this spring Senator Orin Hatch will ask the congress to vote on giving the President “fast track” authority in relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). What this means is that the terms of the treaty establishing ground rules for trade, intellectual property and corporate behavior around the Pacific Rim will be subject to a simple yes or no vote. 

Opponents of TPP and the companion Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) make a big deal out of the fact that the nuts and bolts of these deals are negotiated in secret. As a practical matter I don’t see how a complex agreement between nation-states and corporate entities could be negotiated in public. But we should have a right to know –beyond platitudes– what our government supports in negotiations.  

The crux of this matter is that we’re being asked to trust negotiators to create a mechanism along the lines of previous trade deals. Many of the people who negotiated those earlier deals now admit they failed to provide the promised economic benefits to anybody not owning stock in a multinational corporation. 

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego and Its Stakeholders

Civic San Diego and Its Stakeholders

by Anna Daniels 03.17.2015 Activism

By Anna Daniels

Who are Civic San Diego’s stakeholders? Who are the people and institutions who have the most to benefit from their success? And who has the most to lose if they are not successful? The answer depends upon whom you are talking to—CivicSD and its surrogates; City of San Diego elected representatives; or community residents and resident based organizations.

Community residents and community based organizations from areas of the city which have been designated by CivicSD as their immediate focus for economic revitalization have been particularly vocal on this matter, but they are hardly the only ones.

Community voices have been articulating the need for an enforceable city policy regarding the kinds of community benefits that must be generated in tandem with CivicSD’s economic development projects, as well as additional City of San Diego oversight of development activities. They have called for more transparency and accountability in CivicSD’s operation.

In short, those communities which are already fully aware of the economic and social problems that they face, are asking to be recognized as stakeholders and to be given the participatory power to shape the development process.

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Thumbnail image for Pushback on Civic San Diego Accountability: Here Comes the “Uncertainty” Ploy

Pushback on Civic San Diego Accountability: Here Comes the “Uncertainty” Ploy

by Doug Porter 03.16.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

A showdown is in the works over community input on plans by Civic San Diego to absorb neighborhoods beyond downtown for permitting and planning development projects. For the moment we’re talking about Encanto and City Heights. I doubt it will stop there.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has introduced legislation to clarify the ability of non-profit groups like Civic San Diego to perform permitting work for local governments, as it’s uncertain what legal authority in California law the organization has to approve building projects on behalf of the City of San Diego after redevelopment’s demise. Specifically AB504 calls for the City Council to have final say on projects.

The “uncertainty” defense is being rolled out on behalf of Civic San Diego (and the developers who love it) by former Mayor and Chamber of commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, along with Kris Michell, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership by way of a commentary published earlier today by Voice of San Diego. Used with great success in previous campaigns to pull the wool over the eyes of San Diegans, this sort of effort is supposed to instill fear the local economy will be damaged if (fill-in-the-blank) happens.

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Thumbnail image for The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back  Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

by Jim Miller 03.16.2015 Business

By Jim Miller

Just as the folks in the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) were gearing up to marginalize the progressive wing of the Democratic Party leading up to the 2016 election, Elizabeth Warren struck back with what even CNN reported as “a push to kill major trade negotiations” being championed by President Obama and previously supported by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

And it’s a very good thing that Warren has elevated the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the national media because proponents of this deal have done everything they can to keep the details secret. As I wrote in this column back in January, the TPP is one of the most under-reported stories in America, and it would affect most of us adversely as “it will increase the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, threaten collective bargaining, undermine environmental regulations, jeopardize food safety, limit access to affordable prescription drugs, and much more.”

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Thumbnail image for The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

by Source 03.16.2015 Business

By Robert Reich / RobertReich.Org

The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren’t feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.

What’s behind this? Two big facts.

First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.

In fact, most Americans have no influence at all. That’s the conclusion of Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, who analyzed 1,799 policy issues and found that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

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Thumbnail image for What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service

What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service

by Source 03.14.2015 Business

America’s founders recognized that commerce requires a common infrastructure.

By Katherine McFate / Other Words

Did you know that when you ship a package through Federal Express, the U.S. Postal Service often carries it the last mile?

Last year, the Postal Service delivered 1.4 billion packages for FedEx and UPS. In fact, it delivers the last mile for almost a third of FedEx packages. The 618,000 Postal Service workers also delivered nearly 66 billion pieces of first-class mail — that’s more than 100,000 pieces per carrier.

The Postal Service can reach all 150 million American households because it’s a public system that we’ve been investing in for over 200 years. Our Constitution tasked the federal government with creating a national postal system and told the Postmaster General to report to the president.

But in 1971, Congress made the service into an “independent agency” managed by a board of governors. And since then, it’s been under attack by politicians who never met a public program they liked.

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Thumbnail image for Help Us Find San Diego’s Progressive History and Locales

Help Us Find San Diego’s Progressive History and Locales

by Staff 03.13.2015 Activism

By Staff    

A reader from Liverpool, England, wrote us recently requesting our help in finding “hidden gems of progressiveness and places of historical importance I should visit whilst I’m there.”

That request got us to thinking about how much local history we must be blissfully unaware of. So we’ve decided to create and continue to update a page where the local history of progressiveness and protest will come alive for visitors, students and locals.

We’d like your help in putting this together. You can leave us ideas in the comments section of this article or email us at contact@sandiegofreepress.org with the subject line Progressive San Diego. Many thanks!

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Thumbnail image for The Morphing of Civic San Diego and the Need for City Council Oversight

The Morphing of Civic San Diego and the Need for City Council Oversight

by Anna Daniels 03.13.2015 Business

Preparing for the March 18 Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee meeting

By Anna Daniels

This past October, Reese Jarrett, newly hired President of Civic San Diego (CivicSD), appeared before the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee of the San Diego City Council. The committee chairwoman, District 9 council member Marti Emerald, directed a number of pointed questions toward CivicSD staff, followed by additional questions from District 4 council member Myrtle Cole.

Councilmember Emerald provided a brief description of CivicSD as a city owned non-profit established in June of 2012 to continue the city’s economic revitalization efforts. CivicSD already had a contract with the city, the redevelopment Successor Agency, to handle the administrative duties associated with the winding down of redevelopment projects.

Now there were updated CivicSD bylaws and another contract with the city which transferred the ongoing functions of CCDC and SEDC to CivicSD. Those same bylaws also broadened the scope of CivicSD activities and guaranteed its ongoing existence as the city’s development mechanism. Yet there was little fanfare or public discussion about how economic development and revitalization efforts should continue in the city after the end of redevelopment.

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Thumbnail image for A Wealth Tax for California?

A Wealth Tax for California?

by Source 03.13.2015 Economy

By Roy Ulrich / Capital & Main

California has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s main poverty measure, 16.8 percent of all Californians and 23.5 percent of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2013. Yet it also has the most billionaires in the country: 111. The state’s 33,900 millionaire taxpayers (just .2 percent of the state’s taxpayers) have combined incomes of $104 billion. According to the California Budget Project, California has the seventh widest income gap between rich and poor among the 50 states, ranking between Alabama and Texas.

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Thumbnail image for Bonnie’s Law: San Diego District Attorney Makes Up the Rules

Bonnie’s Law: San Diego District Attorney Makes Up the Rules

by Doug Porter 03.12.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

In recent weeks there have been stories published nationwide about the San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ prosecution of people alleged to be gang members–not linked to any crime–for exercising their First Amendment rights; things like posting on Facebook and recording rap songs.

There was a paragraph here claiming the County DA’s office was refusing to process petitions for re-sentencing under the provisions of Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for drug possession and other minor offenses.  We have since learned that the source for this assertion was, at best, exaggerating. Since nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, we’ve left the headline up and hope to correct any false impressions that had been made…. back to the rest of the story

And just make sure her “message” gets out, the District Attorney has unveiled a public information website competing with San Diego County’s News Center which, according to a story at City Beat, operates with a $3.1-million annual budget and 11 full-time communications officers.

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Thumbnail image for Pot Wars: Congress Moves to Enable Medical Marijuana, Local Dispensaries Fight to Open

Pot Wars: Congress Moves to Enable Medical Marijuana, Local Dispensaries Fight to Open

by Doug Porter 03.10.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

After years of quibbling, San Diego finally got around to enacting regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries last year. The first such entity to clear those legal hoops is slated to open in Otay Mesa this month.

Other licenses under consideration are being stalled by appeals based on environmental regulations filed by would-be competitors. And one location scheduled for a hearing this week is facing an appeal based on the statement “Latinos don’t support this” coming from the San Ysidro Community Planning Group.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC a bi-partisan group of Senators are introducing legislation today that would amount to federal recognition of marijuana used for medical purposes.

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Thumbnail image for Scott Peters and the New Democrats Take Aim at the Warren Wing of the Party

Scott Peters and the New Democrats Take Aim at the Warren Wing of the Party

by Jim Miller 03.09.2015 Activism

…And Other  Sordid Tales

By Jim Miller

Today a “right to work” bill that will gut the union movement in Wisconsin is likely to hit Governor Scott Walker’s desk and no doubt he will sign it.

While there is much discussion in Democratic circles of how Walker is doing this to position himself even more solidly on the right to please potential Republican primary voters, there is much less discussion about how this latest assault on workers’ rights helps speed the runaway train heading toward plutocracy that is the United States.

Indeed, the very same corporate forces and reactionary billionaires who want to buy the 2016 election are the key beneficiaries of this “right to work” policy, but some Democrats don’t seem to be bothered by that. So instead of standing up for an American labor movement under assault, a group of Democratic neoliberals, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC), is more interested in checking the progressive wing of its own party.

Meet one such Democrat: Congressman Scott Peters.

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Thumbnail image for Five Reasons for Not Filing Your Taxes with a Tax Prep Service

Five Reasons for Not Filing Your Taxes with a Tax Prep Service

by Source 03.09.2015 Business

By Nancy Meyer / Daily Kos

If you take your taxes to a tax-in-the-box service, beware.  I’m talking about those retail outlets in strip malls and department stores that are part of national chains. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, they are all a bad idea.

I worked at a tax prep service for nine years, and the fee structure always troubled me.  I told myself that it was just part of the job, that all tax prep service tactics were the same. They are, but that doesn’t make their unethical tactics okay.

The bottom line is that no matter what you pay for tax prep at these places, you are getting ripped off.  The service is designed that way. What I learned about how they operate is disturbing, and I think consumers ought to know.

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